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Son and Fed. Prosecutor Applaud Presidential Pardon of Crooked Detroit Cop

Sgt. James Harris was known in Detroit as a tough cop among co-workers and well connected in the police department. Now, 16 years after getting caught up in an FBI sting, he leaves prison legally blind and suffering from diabetes.

Paul Egan
The Detroit News
DETROIT — Detroit Firefighter James C. Harris will never forget the day in 1992 he drove his father, a former Detroit police sergeant, to the federal courthouse in Flint for the final day of his trial in a criminal cocaine conspiracy.
He drove home alone after a jury convicted his dad and U.S. marshals took him into custody.
News this week that President Bush granted clemency to his father, James Russell “Jimmie” Harris, and commuted the remainder of his 30-year prison sentence, is “the best Thanksgiving present ever,” the son said Tuesday.
The elder Harris, 62, legally blind and sick with diabetes and hypertension, is to be released Dec. 22 — more than 10 years ahead of schedule — from the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. He is one of 14 people who received pardons from President Bush this week.
Snared in a high-profile FBI sting operation that also netted relatives of then-Mayor Coleman A. Young, Harris has no political influence but earned his clemency through his remorse and help he gave to law enforcement after he went to prison, those involved with his case said.
‘He’s changed for the better’
“I think it’s great,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Helland, who prosecuted Harris twice after the first trial ended in a hung jury.
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